Thursday, April 12, 2018

Feeding the Hungry Almonds in California

So are you ready for some more almond updates?  Let me answer "Heck Yes" for you.  So I was back in CA last week and here is how the trees look now.  The blossoms are all gone. 
The bees did their job as we see  loads of almonds growing now where there were flowers before.  And we did not see any obvious frost damage which was a big concern on an earlier visit.
 Remember when Dylan held a small almond blossom pistil in his hand a few weeks ago?  Well now he's holding the developing almond nut.  That almond is going to need some added nutrition to make it to harvest in the fall.  And that is where AgroLiquid comes in.
 Almond watchers SAM's Dylan and Armando, plus Chemist Chris discuss all things almonds with the ranch manager and researcher.  Now AgroLiquid fertilizers are used in a number of commercial operations, but we wanted to design an experiment to prove the value of AgroLiquid's different nutrient options.  Well that is the objective anyway.  I'm confident.  It's time for some plot fertilizer application.
This tractor is applying liquid fertilizer treatments to a plot of almond trees.  Several replicated treatments are applied in this long row of trees.  
Fertilizers are normally applied in the irrigation water, through that small sprinkler there coming out of the black water line.  To simulate fertilizer application, the fertilizer treatments are sprayed on the ground with the nozzles.  The nozzles are positioned to apply over the irrigated area.  To be realistic, the nozzles ran some earlier to wet the ground.  Then the sprayer applies the fertilizers in a high application volume of 200 gallons per acre.  This is to evenly spread the fertilizers over the zone.  Then after application,  the water is turned on again to thoroughly incorporate the treatments.  I'm convinced that this is as realistic as you can get for treatment application.  It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny.  And no wind.
It helps that AgroLiquid fertilizers are all compatible with each other and can easily be applied all at once instead of in separate applications as is necessary with some fertilizers.  The researcher was impressed with AgroLiquid's product compatibility.  There are a number of applications left, but that should hold them for now.  It takes well planned applications of a complete nutrient package to get best response.  So we will be following progress, and I plan to re-visit the test to keep you all posted.  There were some other interesting sights seen during the week, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

How Far We've Come

So back in May of 2010 I got it in my head a desire to share in some the happening things going on at the North Central Research Station, and decided to start a blog.  In the beginning it was called Live From the NCRS and mainly featured research plot establishment and crop development, giving  proof of performance for AgroLiquid's crop nutrition.  But after a while, it expanded to include AgroLiquid use in growing healthy crops all across this great land which we call the Land of Liquid.  It also includes features like Retail Partners, growers, different crops, scenery, landmarks, and probably lots of other stuff as well.

I never imagined that it would someday reach episode #700, but here we are.  And fortunately my contract has been renewed for many more to follow.  So keep reading and tell your friends.  That's the blog that keeps on giving the whole year!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Just a Few More Pics from CA Last Month

So I've been showing quite a few pics from my trip to CA in March, and here it is April already.  But bear with me for a couple more, as they are worth it.  So who doesn't like raisins?  Well they are grown on grape vines, but they are usually picked after they have dried down some.  Some raisin growers construct an apparatus like this to have the vines grow over the space between two rows.  That way the vines hang down making it easier for the pickers to grab the dried bunches.  Cool idea, right?
 But there are no vines on the next space between the next rows over.  Well new vines will grow over the wires this year to be the vines for the 2019 crop.  They will be trained by the vineyard workers.  This was where the 2017 crop was, so they alternate.  Farmers are so innovative. 

So what happens to old vineyards?  Well a lot of them become almond orchards as I've shown.  Always something growing here in California.
 Well what on earth is going on here?  Putting trees in storage?  Covering them for nearby painting?  Protection from sunburn?  Wrong on all guesses.  Now when you eat a Mandarin orange, you don't want to bite into a seed, right?  Well this particular variety is covered to prevent bees from pollinating the flowers with pollen that could produce seeds.  But most growers now have varieties that don't produce seeds.  And NO, these are not GMO plants, as some people without anything better to do have said.  They were naturally bred to be that way.  But covering these must be a lot of work.  But Mandarins are so good it's worth it!
So as I often say in conclusion,  that was interesting.  Especially for this corn and soybean farmer.  I am learning more about the challenges of growing these California crops.  But one thing is still true, it's better with AgroLiquid.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Happy Anniversary Ag PhD TV Show

So this past week marked the 20th anniversary of the wildly popular TV show Ag PhD.  On the show they took a look back to the beginning of their TV career  that started with their father.  It was interesting to see how the format and show formation  had grown since then.  Look at those young fresh faced agronomists.  That is how they have always thought as themselves, as agronomists, with the goal of educating the farmer.  If you are a regular watcher, and I hope you are, think how much they have done over the years to teach farmers and non-farmers about what it takes to  grow our nation's (and the world's) food.  Basically they are teaching these people so that they can better make decisions without learning the hard way or getting harmed by bad advice.  Learn about weeds, seed, fertilizers, soil tests, chemicals,  equipment, etc, and put that knowledge to work in your favor. 
Of course we are happy for the many times they have visited and spoken at AgroLiquid events as well.  Take a look at the segment from the show.  (But first enjoy an informative ad from our favorite fertilizer.)

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Snow Week (check the calendar)

So if I were to talk about all of the snow we had here in mid-Michigan this week, I wouldn't get much sympathy since it seems most of the country was getting some snow.  Particularly out East.  We had two snow days.  Here is a view out of someones house window South of the NCRS on Wednesday morning..
Here is a pic of Farm 5 on Wednesday afternoon.  There had been melting by then.
And here is a view out of a jet window on Thursday over Minnesota.  Brrr.
And finally, here is a view out of the NCRS office window yesterday (Friday) afternoon.
That Mother Nature is a maaad scientist!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Farming Progress South to North

So listening to Ag PhD radio and talking to AgroLiquid folks around the country, it is hard to imagine there are things up and growing while we are still cold and wet here in Michigan.  This picture was sent to me  from Regional Sales Manager Brian.  This week he was about as far South as you can go in Texas without falling into the Rio Grande. Or be in the shadow of a future wall(?).  But it was South of McAllen.  I had never seen this crop before.  Any guesses?  It's a field of cilantro.  Well I had no idea what it looked like, but I do like it as a flavoring on food.  And this should be extra cilantro-y since it is being grown with AgroLiquid.  

I'm sure you noticed the cracks in the soil.  It is dry, but not all soil has cracks like that.  I am guessing that is a soil of Vertisol soil order that is common in that area of South Texas.  It is high in montmorillonite clay that expands and shrinks based on moisture content, and can have big cracks like we see there when dry.  Good thing he uses AgroLiquid to give the roots enough push to grow well in that condition.
On the other hand there is nothing growing in the ground up here today.  In fact, this field is next to the AgroLiquid World Headquarters and is being rented and farmed by the NCRS crew.  So we wait.  But at least the snow is gone.
Not sure when cilantro harvest is.  I will have Brian give me an update.  But it is fun to see crops grown all over the country and have something in common: AgroLiquid nutrition.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Planting Straight Rows of Trees.

 So in previous episodes I've shown nice straight rows of trees in California.  There is a real increase of new plantings of trees, mainly almonds.  So how do they get those nice straight rows that line up no matter which way you look?  Well again Sales Account Manger Dylan was my source of answers.  In fact he has been part of tree planting operations in a previous job.  Well one way is to lay out a real long tape on top of the raised bed, and put in markers, or "straws" as they are called, where the tree will go.  For almonds that is around 14 foot spacing.  Then go to the next row and adjust the tape so that the straw is mid-way between the trees in the previous row.  That way you get maximum sunlight penetration.  And it looks really cool.  Here is an orchard that was probably planted last year.  
Here is an almond orchard that was recently planted.  However instead of straws this grower used GPS guidance on a tractor or something with wheel spacing to match tree placement.  Then they built the raised rows and used the wheel tracks as placement guides.  This is lots faster than the tape and straw method.  This is pretty new to me, and I haven't talked to enough almond growers to get the real scoop on what's the most popular today.  But I would lean towards GPS.  But you have to really be careful to get it set exactly where the wheel track is.
 Look how this tree is leaning.  In fact, they all are.  It seems that they plant on a slant facing Northwest, as that is the direction of the prevailing storm winds in the winter when trees can get blown over. So they lean them into the wind to make them better able to withstand the wind.  Then they will stake them to hold them in position.  Look at the top picture where stakes are on the trees.  I guess it's worth the extra trouble as they will be there for many years. 
There is a saying that I like (but don't always follow) that fits here: If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?  (Do you know who said that?  Famous UCLA basketball coach John Wooden who is the GOAT with 10 championships in 12 years, including 7 in a row.)  He probably wasn't talking about planting almond trees, but it applies.